The Batmobile is one of the most iconic vehicles of all time. But the Batmobile you remember likely depends on your age. As someone born in the early ’80s, the 1989 Batmobile will always be mine. And now, LEGO has re-created it in all its black and dark gray glory—with some fiddly bits.
If you’re an ’80s child, 1989 was a special year. It gave us the most serious take yet on a live-action Batman movie. It was, perhaps, even the most serious live-action superhero take (with respect to Christopher Reeve’s excellent, but still campy, Superman).
Michael Keaton’s Batman changed the game with an older version of Joker, an armored Batman, and one of the best Batmobiles we’d ever seen. The idea of owning it in a glorious, detailed LEGO form was an instant yes from me.
But if you want to own Batman’s best gadget, prepare yourself for some amazing features, but a difficult and fragile build.
Steering and Guns Blazing
Let’s dive into the look of the 1989 Batmobile because this nails the design perfectly. If you’re familiar with the Michael Keaton Batman movies, you’ll recognize it immediately.
At 23-inches long and 4-inches high, this Batmobile is enormous, so you’ll want ample room to display it. You get all the right details from the sliding cockpit to the flame turbine in the back. Even the swooping Batarang-like wings are present over the wheels.
Thanks to The LEGO Movie, we joke that Batman only builds in black and very dark gray, and on the outside, that seems true here. LEGO covered the external shell in an appropriate, shiny jet-black. You only see the dark gray pieces if you slide open the cockpit or look at the undercarriage.
The sliding cockpit also reveals the first of several features LEGO incorporated into the build. When the cockpit’s open, you can turn the steering wheel and the front wheels will swivel accordingly. If you spin the turbine exhaust, guns pop out of the car, although, it’s up to you to remove the covers.
You’ll also build a turntable display, so you can spin your epic Batmobile and your friends can admire it from every angle.
The LEGO Minifigs are another instance of near perfection. LEGO reworked the Batman cowl to closely match the “rubber-armor” look of the Keaton-era movies, and the best part is the swoopy cape. Jack Nicholson’s Joker hits all the right notes from his purple fedora to the acid flower in his lapel.
The same as the film, Vicky Vale is sort of “just there.” You can display the Minifigures on a small stand that’s reminiscent of the gothic church at the end of the movie.
One downside of the Batmobile’s sheer size is that the Batman Minifigure looks incredibly tiny when you put him in the cockpit. It’s like putting a toddler wearing a Batman costume into a real Batmobile and asking him to drive.
Still, I’d rather have the larger Batmobile, so it’s a downside I don’t mind.
A TECHNICal Build
LEGO doesn’t call this a Technic set, but it uses Technic pieces and methods of construction for the steering wheel and turbine features. This (among other things) increases the difficulty of this build. LEGO rates it as an 18+ set, and that seems appropriate.
The steering mechanism is a new style of geometry we’ve not seen in other LEGO cars with the feature, but that’s likely due to the sheer width of the Batmobile.
It’s a simple build. The most tedious process is connecting all the pieces that make the turbine lift the guns. You run them from the back and nearly to the front of the car.
The inside is colorful, which helps when trying to figure out where the pieces go. The all-black exterior is just the opposite—determining which brick goes where is a chore.
At one point, the LEGO instructions calls for three of a particular piece, but only tells you what to do with two of them. This led to a lot of page-turning to figure out what went wrong, but the piece is just an unnecessary spare.
You can’t measure the difficulty of a LEGO build by the number of pieces alone. It’s really the techniques required and how you have to build the layers. The Batmobile uses several unique techniques you won’t find in a “building” set, like a store or castle. For example, despite having more pieces, LEGO Hogwarts is a more straightforward, much faster build than the LEGO Batmobile.
Any adult can get through this build, but younger children might find it too difficult to do alone.
The Batmobile Broke a Wheel, Joker Got Away
To be fair, this Batmobile isn’t so fragile that a wheel will fall off, but it does sometimes feel like it. When moving it from my building center to my LEGO display center or picture booth, I lost pieces dozens of times. The biggest offenders were the swooping Batarang-like wings above the rear wheels—these break off if you stare at them too hard.
The turntable also breaks apart fairly easily if you’re not careful when you carry it, and it really doesn’t work that well. Don’t expect to just give it a slight push to watch your Batmobile spin around; LEGO just can’t do that. You’ll have to make the entire spin happen, so think of the turntable as a feature for changing up your display.
Of course, my son wants to play with it, because who wouldn’t? But just pushing it around on the floor causes bricks to fall off. This Batmobile is for display only—yet another reason it’s rated 18+.
For the Love of Batman, Buy It!
If you’re looking for a LEGO Batmobile toy for your children to play with, don’t get this set. Go for the much cheaper and sturdier “Pursuit of the Joker” set instead.
However, if you’re an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL) and Batman (AFOB?), you should definitely pick up this set. If you’re a fan of Michael Keaton’s turn as the big bad bat, then this set is absolutely for you.
Despite being a branded set, you also get a lot of bricks for a good price. I consider a good set value to be 10 cents per brick. At $250 for 3,306 pieces, this set averages around 7 cents per brick, which is a steal! You also get a unique piece (the windshield) and a custom version of the Bat cowl.
From a value standpoint, the 1989 Batmobile almost sells itself, but when you factor in the nostalgia, it’s even better! The set is somewhat fragile, though—you won’t be playing with it. But then, some LEGO sets are only meant to be displayed.
If you love Batman and LEGO, get this set!
Here’s What We Like
- It's the freaking Batmobile
- Pop up guns are a nice touch
- Batman and Joker look amazing
- Good value at 7 cents per brick
And What We Don't
- Somewhat difficult to build
- Pieces break off too easily
- For display only